For Immediate Release - October 11, 2012

BOSTON STUDENTS AND STATE ENVIRONMENTAL OFFICIALS CELEBRATE COASTSWEEP’S 25TH ANNIVERSARY

BOSTON – Thursday, October 11, 2012 – Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Undersecretary Philip Griffiths today joined nearly 250 students, parents and teachers from the Josiah Quincy Upper School in Boston at the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s (DCR) Carson Beach in South Boston to celebrate 25 years of COASTSWEEP – Massachusetts’s annual coastal cleanup.

Started in 1987, COASTSWEEP is a volunteer program organized by EEA’s Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) and the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Urban Harbors Institute (UHI) that employs thousands of volunteers each fall to clean up trash from the Commonwealth's beaches, river banks, marshes and seafloor during the months of September and October.

As part of Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, COASTSWEEP participants join hundreds of thousands of other volunteers each year in the world’s largest volunteer effort for the ocean.

"For the past 25 years, thousands of dedicated volunteers have given their time to help keep our recreational areas clean and protect marine and wildlife habitat by removing tons of trash from Massachusetts’ coastline," said Undersecretary Griffiths. "On behalf of the Patrick-Murray Administration, I’d like to thank all those who’ve participated in COASTSWEEP over the last 25 years, with a special thanks to the Josiah Quincy Upper School volunteers who are here today."

In addition to the important task of removing trash, COASTSWEEP volunteers record information about what they collect. The data collected at each cleanup is fed into an international marine debris database maintained by Ocean Conservancy. This information is used to better understand the sources of marine debris globally and develop solutions for prevention.

“The Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management has been proud to lead the COASTSWEEP effort for the last 25 years. COASTSWEEP’s success is based on all of the dedicated volunteers who put on the gloves, pick up the trash and log what they find so we have the data we need to develop solutions to the marine debris problem,” said CZM Director Bruce Carlisle. “Here’s to 25 more years of dedicated volunteers working with us to keep our coast clean!”

“The COASTSWEEP volunteers deserve sincere thanks for their cleanup work, collecting and documenting tons of litter and debris today, here and at more than 100 other locations," said DCR Commissioner Edward M. Lambert, Jr.  “DCR’s Salisbury Beach, for one, under the direction of Mike Magnifico, has been part of the effort for all 25 years of the program. DCR will always be an active advocate for coastal cleanup and we’re proud to partner with CZM on this effort once again.”

Marine debris is more than an eyesore, it can also directly harm sea life and humans. Sea birds, seals and other animals can be choked, starved or poisoned when they mistake debris for food, and wildlife can become entangled in nets, bags, ropes and other trash, often resulting in drowning, suffocation, loss of mobility or starvation. Beachgoers may injure themselves on pieces of glass, wood or metal while swimming or walking on the sand.

Debris also poses a threat to navigation – propellers can become jammed with fishing line, boats can be damaged by colliding with large pieces of debris and plastic can clog cooling intakes. Because much of the trash collected each year comes from street litter, it is easily preventable by always using secure trash bins and recycling as much as possible.

Marine debris is any human-made material, such as trash, which makes its way into the ocean. This includes people littering, trash blowing out of trash cans and cigarette butts washing into storm drains that connect to the ocean. 

Cleanups, like the one organized by the Josiah Quincy Upper School, are held throughout September and October in Massachusetts coastal communities. To join a cleanup or organize your own, check out the COASTSWEEP website at www.coastsweep.umb.edu or call (617) 287-5570. All cleanup supplies (bags, gloves, data cards, pencils, etc.) are provided free of charge and cleanups can be scheduled at your convenience.

Also, become a friend of COASTSWEEP on Facebook at www.facebook.com/COASTSWEEP or follow COASTSWEEP and marine debris issues on Twitter at https://twitter.com/coastsweep.

The Josiah Quincy Upper School (JQUS) has been involved in COASTSWEEP for more than 10 years, and has been very proactive about getting the students to understand environmental issues.

"Taking stewardship of our planet is a theme central to the International Baccalaureate Program that the JQUS is now a part of. Through COASTSWEEP, students are able to be active participants in taking care of our shores. The experience makes a profound and lasting impression on students about the impact individuals can have on their environment,” said Jumhoor Rashid, a JQUS science teacher.

In addition to EEA, CZM, UHI and DCR, COASTSWEEP 2012 sponsors include Weston Solutions, the University of Massachusetts Boston and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Falmouth.

The Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management is the agency within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs charged with protecting the state's approximately 1,500-mile coast. Through educational and regulatory programs, CZM seeks to balance human uses of the coastal zone with the need to protect fragile marine resources. The agency's work includes helping coastal communities anticipate and plan for sea level rise and other effects of climate change, working with cities and towns and the federal government to develop boat sewage no-discharge areas and partnering with communities and other organizations to restore coastal and aquatic habitats.

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